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Karine writes...

Hey, I was a guest this year. Yeah, listed in the con book as a Guest next to Thom and Greg. It was strange and weird and cool and fun all at the same time.

I took very few photos, and none of them during con activities. I blame it on Samuel. All his fault for having my attention!!! So you'll just have to go look at other people's photos.

Samuel and I were dropped off at the airport by Adam and Matthieu on Thursday morning. I like the self-check-in terminals, they make things fast and easy. As I was told that Pigeon Forge was a dry county, I went to the duty free store to pick up some good mixer booze and some Sortilège (maple syrup whisky liqueur) to bring, but as they have changed the rules on bringing liquids on planes, the alcohol had to be put in luggage that would be checked. And since I'd packed very tight, there was no room for bottles, and thus I could not buy anything. (poo)

Sam was very well behaved on the plane. Once arrived in Chicago, we met up with Jen and Thom at the gate for Knoxville; Thom was litterally sedated, so Jen and I shared some lunch while he snoozed. Susan (co-chair of G2008 in Chicago) joined us, and then they changed our gate, so we had to wake up Thom and make our way there. I had to work, but there was no room on the plane to have Sam in his car seat, so Jen offered to take him; however, due to placement of oxygen masks, I had to keep Samuel with me. No biggie, it was a short trip, and he slept most of the way (mommy's milk is an effective narcotic sometimes).

In Knoxville, we piled up in the car Susan had rented, installed the GPS, and drove to our hotel. Except that the GPS couldn't find the hotel at first, and then when Jen reprogrammed it with an intersection, it brought us PAST the hotel into the following town. We joked that it brought us to the booze, as it made us pass a very well stocked liquor store. We got, among other things, a TUB of margarita... it was good. Wish I could find that here, it's great for parties. We drove back into Pigeon Forge (aka OMG Tacky Town, aka Vegas Light) and found our hotel.

As far as hotels go, this was on the not good side. It wasn't awful, but for those who've been to the Orlando Gathering... yeah. Like that. Water problems from torrential rain included. Although we'd find that out on Sunday... The thing about the hotel is thaty at first it seemed "not as bad as it seems", if you understand what I mean, but it progressively got worse. The room that I was sharing with Jennifer, Samuel and Eric (aka Gorebash) stank of cigarette smoke. The hotel staff did not have any non-smoking rooms, so they offered to clean the room and change the sheets. Why they don't do this between every stay is beyond me. The room was okay after that, thankfully.

Guests and staff met up in the lobby, and we made our way to the Japanese steak house across the street. Good food. Good performance. Good company. Sam was zerberted by Greg W, cuddled and snuggled by several people, and was a happy camper throughout. When we got back to the room, he went to sleep pretty easily, and we grownups had a relaxing evening chatting before turning in.

Sam woke up around 4:45 AM, and since I'm a light sleeper, he woke me up. I took him into my bed before he could wake up the others and nursed him. We both fell asleep shortly, only to all wake up around 8:30 or so.

We went to the hotel restaurant for breakfast. The deal was that you could get pancakes and syrup OR biscuits and gravy for free as long as you bought a drink. Starch and Carbs, anyone? I mostly passed on the biscuits and gravy thing. Not my thing. So after the pancakes, I made my way to host my first panel... or at least I tried! I was looking for the room like an idiot. My phone rang and I was told, "You know you're supposed to be in 3B now, right?" I said, "Yes, I know, and I'd BE there if I KNEW how to GET there!" After a few elevator rides, Sam and I finally arrived in the room. Nikki and I hosted the Basic Art Tips discussion. I taught perspective and backgrounds, Nikki and I explored character design, we explained more about how perspective affects characters, and the like. It was a good panel.

I went back to the room for Sam to have a nap. While he slept, I whipped out my laptop and continued working on the Bad Guys comic. After he woke up, I printed a bunch of stuff in the ConSuite, then we made our way to the third floor atrium again. I went to set up in the art show, chatted with some people there, and took a look at the stuff posted. Then it was Opening Ceremonies, and Samuel was getting really fussy after a while, so I had to cut my presence short and make my way back to the hotel room to have him nap some more before dinner. He had a really hard time settling down, so I skipped on the mini-golf because I would probably have been spending my time looking after him rather than playing. Plus, I was HUNGRY. I figured the stroller ride would help him get some sleep. We went out to dinner, but I ended up getting really worried and upset at the amount of noise in the place, which did wake up Samuel. However, he ended up being okay after he calmed down. Sammy took Samuel at one point, and my Sam was finding this arrangement quite pleasant! Sammy is awesome with him. Seth also got a truckfull of smiles and giggles out of him. These two would make wonderful parents. After dinner, we made our way back to the room, and Sam was put to bed. Eric went to get some ice and I prepared the margarita tub. We had some drinks and chatted the rest of the evening.

It was around 7ish that I woke up, I think. I got up after a while, unable to sleep anymore. Everyone else was sleeping -- yes, even Samuel! I checked on him, then went to take a shower, got ready, then looked back in the room and saw that everyone was still sleeping. I lied down next to Jen again, and dozed a bit before everyone finally got up around 8:30.

We got ready and headed down for breakfast. Pancakes again, and coffee. Starch and Carbs. Wheee. Jen was holding Radio Play auditions, and I decided to audition for the first time since the beginning of Radio Plays. After that was done, I hosted the "From Fan to Pro" panel, where I answered several questions about working on the Gargoyles comics, and some about breaking into the business. It was a busy panel, which I hosted with Samuel in my arms. I had brought the Cocoa Warriors book to show (the Aztec comic that had me stressed out and which I hated, and when I received the final product a few weeks ago was quite proud of, and again very grateful for the help I got to get it done), but forgot all about bringing storyboard samples. As I chatted with someone about his art, Samuel was giggling and squealing on my shoulder, and it took me a while to realize that it was Gore playing Peekaboo with him that had him so excitedly happy.

I had a couple of hours free before finding out if I was cast in the play, and so I went to post my silly Kanthara drawing I'd done during Opening Ceremonies (and coloured in the evening) in the Art show. The drawing was an apology for not having any art for sale in the show -- I'd only posted pages from Issue 5 and one of the pages from the test I did to get the gig in the first place. Samuel was sleeping in his stroller, so I was able to leave him with JennBob and Jade so I could get some lunch; after I returned to the Dealers' Room, I took advantage of the babysitting to chat with people and look at what was for sale. I was wowed by the crochet-made dolls that Vox Mortuum had for sale. I ended up being cast in the radio play, after goofing off for a while longer, I went to the radio play rehearsal.

Rehearsal went very well. I think Samuel slept during most of it. He spent it with Sammy, who was sitting at the far end of the room. He woke up just as we finished, and I ended up nursing him at the beginning of the actual performance. This worked out fine, as he got cast as Alex (someone else provided the voice, though ;)) and was cooperative due to a full tummy when it was his turn to act. The play was an adaptation of issues 3, 4 and 5 of the comic, so everyone who was there got a SNEAK PREVIEW of the issue that's going to come out in July! MWAHAHAHA! Anyways, we put on a good show. It was a lot of fun.

There was an expedition to the tattoo parlour across the street, because a bunch of people wanted to get a tattoo. lybell designed a Phoenix Gate drawing, and everyone decided where they wanted it. I didn't want to get a tattoo, myself, but I did toy with the idea of getting a cartilage piercing on my left ear. I finally decided against it, because doing it would have only been a spur-of-the-moment thing, not something thought out; plus, the last piercing I got caused all my piercings to get infected, and my body became allergic to several metals. I'm afraid that I'd end up with an inflamed ear. So anyways, back to the tattoo: the shop didn't have time to do them that evening, so that plan got cancelled, with a rescheduling for the next day.

Dinner happened next. We went to a seafood-type place across the street, and I wasn't in the mood for fried fare (I swear, it's almost all there is to eat!) so I ordered a pasta and shrimp dish instead. And it was the. Blandest. Food. Ever. Andrea had the same thing, and agreed with me. Blegh. I had a beer, and it was American Budweiser... almost like drinking a glass of water. It was that or Bud Light, Coors Light, Michelob Light or Corona... I'm a Canadian Beer Snob. :P

We tried to go swimming before the Blue Mug (which I ended up skipping because I had to put Samuel to bed), but the pool was full of excited kids, so we cancelled that idea too. When everyone went off to the Mug, I put Sam in the playpen, let him fall asleep, and then I had a nice phone chat with Adam. I also did some drawing for the comic, designing a new character. I turned in around midnight, but had trouble falling asleep. I was merely dozing when Jen and Eric came back from the Blue Mug. We chatted a bit about it, and then I tried to sleep... and it took me a good long while to finally drift off.

Again with the late getting up. I'm so grateful that Sam is turning into a late sleeper. We had breakfast, and since I didn't think I could stand pancakes again, I went for the eggs and meat buffet. Protein and Fat instead of Starch and Carbs. And coffee.

Since there were no panels we needed to be at until 2PM, we headed out to the tattoo parlour again. Honestly, given the tackiness and run-down look of the town, this shop was amazingly clean, and even classy. The tattoo artists were great, too. They are very professional, and fun. Jen got marked first, and then it was one after the other for the rest of the time. I went back to the hotel room to get Sam to have a nap before I needed to be at the Bad Guys panel. I nursed him into submission, then was able to work some more on the comic before I printed out the updated page 2 and headed to the panel.

Well, instead of being a panel on the comic, it turned into a marketing meeting on how to promote the comics and the show. I felt pretty useless in the discussion, and Greg felt like he was a broken record, but there were so many NEW people at the con that to them, it was all new stuff. After the panel, I went into the art show to post the six first pages of the Bad Guys comic (only page 1 was finished, page 2 was nearly there, the rest was very rough, but readable), and watched as people filed in to look at the pages.

Jen, Eric, Sam and I went back to our room and changed into nice clothes for the banquet. Samuel fell asleep in his stroller, and slept through most of the meal. Nikki, Thom, Greg and I were seated at a Head Table, which honestly, was kind of weird. Still, we had a good time, and when Samuel woke up, he nursed, then played on the floor between Greg and me, laughing up at us. Greg held Sam and zerberted him some more. Then came the Q&A. At one point, I asked people to ask questions about Bad Guys, since they hadn't at the panel, and eventually we got asked silly things like what kind of pie we like. :)

We headed back to our rooms to get changed for the Masquerade. Jen and I had agreed, just for fun, to wear our medieval outfits (corsets and all), much to our straight male friends' delight. We got back to the room for the Masquerade, and I sat with Greg and Thom to judge the costumes. It amuses me that some people will wear costumes but not participate in the competition, but oh well. It was a fun show. Hal the Gargoyle was FREAKING AMAZING. It was his first con, too. Holy crap. Anyways, I wheeled a sleeping Samuel into the next room with Greg and Thom, and we chose the winners. I ended up leaving Samuel in the quiet part of the room, and then when the party got started, I goofed and did some cancan dancing with JennBob, Nikki, ChynaRose, Jade (and maybe others? I just know the line was getting long). I mentionned to friends that I was going to put Sam to bed, and to come over for our small room party -- I am so grateful that Samuel can sleep through this, because otherwise I would not have been able to spend evenings with anyone, and Jen and Eric would have been kept out of their own room. Anyways, mixers where brought, the Margarita tub was taken out, and we shared drinks and watched silly online videos and generally had a great time. People started trickling out around 1AM... we must be getting old or something.

By the way, I made up a drink that evening, which people called a Green Jolly Rancher. Here's the recipe: in a tumbler with ice, add 1 shot Midori, 1 shot Vodka, and fill with Mountain Dew. Hey, it's what was there, and it worked really well.

I can so get used to Samuel not waking up until 8AM or later... And that morning, when I got him from his crib, I nursed him, and then he just fell asleep again. We all got ready and packed, and as he was still sleeping when it was time to go, I just put him in the stroller with his blanket to go to breakfast. He only woke up in the middle of our breakfast, so I changed his diaper and clothes down there, and then I realised that I'd have to be at the autograph panel (kept forgetting I was a Guest) and rushed upstairs to the panel with Greg and Thom.

So I signed autographs, then they held the auction, and then I signed more autographs on things won at the auction. Before long, it was time for Jen, Thom, Samuel and me to leave, so we said our goodbyes, picked up our stuff, and Patrick drove us to the airport. We got checked in, and as our planes were leaving from the same gate, we were able to have some more time together before we all had to say goodbye. I really wanted to bring Jen back with me.

On the flight to Washington, I was able to get a free seat for Samuel to be in. As our flight was delayed, I was worried that I'd be missing my plane to Montreal, since the layover was a mere 25 minutes; that plane ended up being delayed too, for which I was grateful, as it allowed me to grab some lunch, and notice that Samuel had more than overflowed from his diaper... again. Thankfully, I still had his PJs from the morning in the stroller. The (not so) funny thing is that in the Knoxville airport, Samuel's diaper had overflowed and I decided to purchase a onesie at the airport because I thought the PJs would be too warm... and he ended up in the PJs anyways. Anyways, the second flight was full, so I had Sam in my lap. He slept right through. Landing in Montreal was uneventful. Customs were easy, getting luggage was easy, and then my boys picked me up and we went for pizza. Well, I had pizza. Adam had a sub, and Matthieu asked for spaghetti, and we shared a poutine. Matthieu told me all about his weekend (with some prodding from his dad) and Sam got to tell his dad all about his trip, in the way only a four-month-old can. And later that eveing, after the boys were in bed, I got to snuggle with my husband. It's good to be home.

I'm pre-registered for next year. Chicago! I don't know if I'll get the whole family to come with me... it depends on vacation time and on money, and also on what there is to do family-wise in Chicago. I'm sure I'll find stuff. :)

Greg responds...

"zerbert" must equal "flauble". We call 'em flaubles in my family.

Response recorded on July 12, 2007